The best hood in our test is found on the chart-topping Canada Goose Expedition. The Woolrich Bitter Chill has a roomy and cozy hood.
An ace layering piece for cold days, this Sherpa fleece vest keeps your core warm while leaving your arms free to pop tents and gather kindling. Layer with confidence on the near-frozen trails with our top-shelf, 3-in-1 jacket offers a suite of technical features.
Avg Weight g 37 oz Center Back For unparalleled versatility on the trails, this 3-in-1 jacket system pairs a textured, waterproof, lined shell with a zip-out midweight hardface fleece for customizable insulation. Wear both jackets together in cold, wet conditions or wear them separately as weather permits. Durable, lightweight three-in-one jacket for excellent range of motion and protection from the elements.
Wintertime treks are a blast with the customized coverage of this 3-in-1 jacket that combines a durable, waterproof outer shell with a removable, fill down insulated inner jacket. The exterior shell jacket features plenty of secure-zip pockets hold trail permits and pocket knives. Underarm vents make sure you never overheat, and large front cargo pockets mean you can have ample chairlift snacks and a second pair of gloves readily available at all times.
Avg Weight g 3 lbs 4. Beat your buddies down the hill in this lightweight and durable ski jacket crafted from two-layer Apex Flex material for nimble protection. A removable, helmet-compatible hood offers customizable warmth, and a snap-away powder skirt keeps your base layers dry when you carve it up off-piste. Insulated Waterproof Wind Protection Hooded. Standard fit jacket with a removable, helmet-compatible hood Snap-away powder skirt with gripper elastic Two secure-zip chest pockets Secure-zip hand pockets Internal media pocket with media port Internal goggle pocket Underarm vents Secure-zip wrist pocket with goggle wipe Waterproof, exposed zips Wrist gaiters with thumbholes.
Avg Weight g 1 lb Your go-to jacket all season long, this versatile jacket system pairs a breathable, waterproof shell with a warm, insulated liner jacket. Waterproof, insulated three-in-one ski jacket Standard Fit Removable, helmet-compatible hood Secure-zip chest and hand pockets Internal goggle pocket Underarm vents for added breathability Secure-zip wrist pocket with goggle wipe Zip-in integration [Inner] Secure-zip hand pockets.
Water-resistant, breathable, stretchy and ready to rock. For windy, cold weather activities, this coveted soft shell keeps you warm and windchill-free beneath its windproof exterior and comfortable fleece backer.
Windproof stretch soft-shell jacket for cool-weather activities Relaxed fit Center front zipper, zip chest pocket and zip hand pockets Hem cinch-cord Raised logos. Designed for ultimate versatility in unpredictable conditions, an adjustable hood and pit-zip vents allow added ventilation in warmer weather. Take on whatever spring weather throws at you with this highly wind-resistant, hooded anorak featuring a unique, zippered top-entry pocket.
Avg Weight g 7. This versatile pullover offers wind and rain resistance, and packs into its own stylish fanny-pack-style kangaroo pocket. Made with fast approaches in mind, this lightweight, breathable fleece with woven overlays is a great layering piece for the trail. Redesigned to deliver streamlined wind protection this windproof Roam the trails in a warm highly wind-resistant Goose down insulation keeps its loft and insulating value much longer than synthetic insulation does.
Within down insulation, the rating systems describe weight and insulation value, not durability. More expensive down is warmer per weight, but it won't necessarily last longer than less expensive down. Finally, good weatherproofing is costly. Sealed seams, tight pockets, and protected zippers take effort, design, and pricy materials.
If you really want and need to guard against wet and wind, you will pay for it. Warmth is the most important metric we used to rank each competitor and is a factor of how much insulation is in a jacket, regardless of if its down or synthetic insulation.
That said, down fill feels warmer than synthetic The more insulation a jacket contains, the warmer it is. We looked at the insulation quality fill weight and quantity fill weight of each jacket and then compared it to the jacket's cut and length to gauge how the insulation is distributed. If two jackets have an equal fill weight of 10 ounces, but one has a waist-length hem while the other has a mid-thigh length hem, they are not equally warm. The most useful measurement for warmth is, of course, comparative testing in actual conditions.
We spent a lot of outside comparatively test, swapping jackets among the test team and comparing notes. The top-scoring Arc'teryx Camosun features high-quality, fill down. Such lofty, efficient down keeps the jacket's weight down and its packable size small. This low number should not dissuade shoppers though. Using heavier, lower quality down brings the cost down and a casual parka like this doesn't need to be as light and compressible as more technical options that need to fit in your backpack.
The Canada Goose Expedition Parka is filled with average quality fill down , but it has so much of it that it's the warmest model reviewed. It's also pretty bulky. The second warmest jacket earns a Best Buy award. The North Face McMurdo is nearly an expedition parka, with the price tag of a casual jacket. It offers the best value in our test. The Patagonia Jackson Glacier also kept us warm in most wintry conditions. The Woolrich Bitter Chill deserves mention for being on the warmer side of the fleet.
The Woolrich is the warmest non-down insulated piece reviewed. Woolrich insulates the Bitter Chill with a lofted batting that blends wool and synthetic fibers. Overall, jackets with synthetic insulation are not as warm as the down models. The Arc'teryx Fission SV provides less insulation than most of the down models reviewed.
This is likely because the garment has less insulation overall, though it did reinforce the idea that if you are looking for warmth, opt for down. REI's jacket is a down-insulated layering piece that has insulating value a little below that of the Arc'teryx Fission.
The fleece jackets are the least insulating products reviewed. Well-suited to more moderate climates, The North Face Arrowood Triclimate is durable, versatile, and affordable, but not incredibly warm. Insulated with synthetic fleece, it just doesn't stack up to the rest of the field, which may be just what you're looking for if you live in a warm climate. When we talk about weather resistance, we're talking about wind and water.
These jackets are thick enough to cut the wind, so you just need to look out for drafts. Longer jackets or those with ribbed hems will protect you from below. Inner cuffs and hoods will also keep warm air in and cold out. That leaves us with water. Water-resistant outer fabric helps keep you and your jacket's insulation dry in wet winter weather.
All of these models have some type of water resistance, from basic nylon with a durable water resistant DWR coating to a fully waterproof membrane layer with taped seams. These strategies provide varying degrees of protection. If your winter precipitation tends to fall as rain or wet snow instead of the West's dry powder, consider a winter jacket with a waterproof outer shell, like The North Face Arrowood Triclimate with its DryVent fabric or the Arc'teryx Fission SV that uses Gore-Tex.
These waterproof and breathable fabrics shed water faster and for much longer than a DWR treatment alone. If a jacket has an inner waterproof membrane, you can be sure the outer face fabric is treated with DWR. This knocked the jacket down in the ratings.
If you wear your jacket in lower temperatures where it tends to snow instead of rain, and if that snow is relatively dry you know who you are , then the competitors with DWR treatments such as the Canada Goose Expedition Parka , Patagonia Jackson Glacier , or the REI Co-op Down Hoodie are adequately protected. It's not incredibly water-resistance due to its untaped seams, but it's warm enough to excel in genuinely sub-freezing conditions.
Luckily, in those temperatures, precipitation is always solid, and the compromised weather protection isn't a problem. However, in our testing, the outer fabric to soaked in more snow and water than the others, making it a bit heavy and uncomfortable.
This is the cost of style. The external material is attractive, but not as weather-proof as the smooth face of something like the Marmot Fordham or the Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Camosun. We dig the Haglofs Torsang Parka's weather protection. This is a fully waterproof, taped-seams rain shell with light insulation. It isn't warm enough for many winter climates, but the wet and sleety corners of North America are just the place for it.
In terms of weather protection, it is similar to the Editors Choice and the Patagonia Tres. Wintertime is uncomfortable enough. Don't put on an uncomfortable winter parka, too.
Most of the models we reviewed work hard to make braving the cold and wind more forgiving. We found a general correlation between cost and comfort. More expensive jackets use softer materials and more thoughtful tailoring to achieve maximum comfort. A parka's cut has a significant impact on its comfort.
A meticulously designed jacket like the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka fits most bodies better than a generic square-cut design. A longer hem, which many of these parkas use, also keeps the waist from riding up and exposing you to drafts.
A notable exception is our Best Buy Marmot Fordham. Despite its bargain price, every tester who tried on the Fordham was impressed to find that it's more comfortable than the competition.
There is also something of a correlation between comfort and warmth. The biggest jackets we tested are the warmest, but they are also the most confining. Lots of insulation and an extended cut keep the heat in and make for a large package. This bulky package limits your range of motion, also impeding your comfort. The more comfortable parkas reviewed, like the Arc'teryx Camosun , also have elastic rib knit cuffs, which seal out drafts and snow. Unless you cinch them down around your gloves, velcro-closed cuffs aren't as protective and comfortable as the elastic versions.
The rest employ velcro cuffs. We love the cozy feel of fleece lining, especially when it lines pockets and chin covers. When cinched tight, it works as intended to hold in warmth, making you feel like you're at home in front of the fire, albeit with some tickles to your cheeks. The soft, down-sweater style construction of the OR Whitefish is far more comfortable than it appears.
It looks like a rigid "barn coat" style jacket. However, the construction is tailored and materials selected such that you have all the range of motion you need and a light feeling sort of insulation.
Hoods, multiple hand warmer pockets, two-way zippers, and cuff closures work together to protect you from frigid environments. A hood is mandatory in nasty winter weather, and while it is not a substitute for a warm hat, it certainly makes life a lot nicer.
Ideally, these hoods will be highly adjustable to allow for a customizable and secure fit. The best hood in our test is found on the chart-topping Canada Goose Expedition. The hood is warm, large, and can be cinched down securely and comfortably. The stiff brim also keeps the hood almost out of your field of view.
This is unfortunate, as the latest hood is compromised enough that warmth and weather protection suffers. If you leave the removable fur ruff on and don't have to move your head much, the McMurdo's hood effectively seals out the weather. Otherwise, the more sophisticated hoods of the Arc'teryx and Patagonia jackets are at the head of the pack, literally.
The Woolrich Bitter Chill has a roomy and cozy hood. Only the interior layers of the 3-in-1 jackets do not come with any hood, meaning that a warm hat is necessary. Insulated handwarmer pockets are an excellent place to keep cold hands or gloves, and most have a fleece-like liner. The Arc'teryx jackets have the best hand warmers. All of these feature wrap-around fleece lining. This not only means that your hand is insulated while in the pocket, but that there is no draft when the pocket is open.
The next best hand warmer pockets, like those on the REI Down Hoody , put the user's hand between the outer insulation and the wearer's body. The pockets are uninsulated, but they are fleece-lined, and there are four of them!
With a set at chest level and waist level, there is a hand warming option for every posture. The latest version still has four fleece-lined handwarmer pockets, but the upper, chest-level ones are now situated further from the center zipper. This means that you have to contort your shoulders and elbows to get your hands into them.
So much so, that these pockets aren't comfortably usable. Nonetheless, the jacket is incredibly worthy. We wish that the jackets featuring a single layer of fabric protecting the hands in a warming pocket had a more sophisticated design. The Canada Goose models, for instance, both have uninsulated hand pockets.
When wearing a trench-coat-length parka, the need for two-way zippers becomes apparent. The extended length can inhibit stride, and wearing a long coat while seated can be awkward and uncomfortable without this feature. The Haglofs Torsang Parka is a long coat with a separating zipper on the bottom. Getting this zipper started is annoying, but once rigged it runs smoothly. Cuff closures can be simple elastic closures, a snap closure, or Velcro, but a good winter parka needs them.
They seal out the snow and cold and integrate well with gloves. Open cuffs with internal gaskets, like those on the Arc'teryx Camosun and Woolrich Bitter Chill , combine fashion and function. The Haglofs Torsang has soft inner gaskets with velcro closed outer cuffs. This is perhaps the best of both worlds. Other features that may be important to you include internal phone pockets with headphone ports, skirts to seal out the cold, or built-in face warmers.
We liked the feature set on the Canada Goose Expedition Parka. It has almost a dozen pockets, a snow skirt, and a drawcord waist, not to mention a fur-trimmed hood. Both come with an array of pockets, including an internal Napoleon pocket referencing the famous pose that has a headphone channel, so your electronics stay dry.
Other jackets, like the REI Co-op Down , are bare-bones models with little more than two hand pockets. Our personalities show through our clothing choices, winter jackets included. This review includes parkas that could be worn to a nice restaurant and a Broadway show, and others that are clean and simple but are more at home walking the dog. While technical jackets might be at home in the mountains, they are easily worn in urban settings and can let some of your outdoorsy personality show through.
Casual urban parkas don't usually work the other way. They are likely missing crucial elements for safe winter adventurings, think hoods or full waterproofing. Most of the models reviewed have an extended cut, which adds warmth and weather resistance. It also gives them a different look than the waist-length athletic cuts that most backcountry-inspired jackets have. We liked the style of the Patagonia Jackson Glacier and Arc'teryx Camosun , which are both stylish enough to dress up but also perform well while snowshoeing or ice skating.
The dapper Woolrich Bitter Chill scores well in this category as well. Across the board, we tested different "looks" to find something for everyone. Our newest jackets are polarizing in terms of fashion. Except for the OR Whitefish. Its subtle style is unanimously appreciated.
Our most fashion-conscious tester roundly approves of the look of the Whitefish. This same tester did not like the look of the Haglofs Torsang. This tester's summary of the Torsang was as follows — "It looks like a tube. You look like a blood sausage". Not all testers are so disapproving of the Torsang's style, but this opinion is strong enough to be worth noting.
With few exceptions, quality winter outerwear is expensive. For a quality winter parka, expect to invest. On the upside, that investment will pay off for a few years of consistent use, depending on your activity levels.
Are you going to be in contact with razor-sharp winter climbing gear, like ice axes? Or will you only be using the parka to get from home to the bus stop all winter? After investing a large sum of money in a winter jacket, we want to feel like our investment is protected, so we like the lifetime guarantees offered by companies like Canada Goose and Patagonia , who stand by the craftsmanship and materials of their products.
One of the most critical durability considerations is a jacket's outer fabric. Solid, heavy-duty, canvas-like exterior materials can withstand more abuse than the thinner shell of, say, the REI Co-op Down Hood. Zippers, snaps, and Velcro get a lot of use, so we looked at these closures to make sure they are durable enough.
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